What Happens if a Police Car Causes an Accident?
Accidents with police cars are not uncommon. Unfortunately, recovering compensation after an accident with a police vehicle can be challenging. There are various ways that accidents occur with law enforcement vehicles. After all, police officers are people, just like you and me. They do make mistakes when driving. Additionally, law enforcement officers are often placed into stressful driving situations when responding to calls or when pursuing other vehicles. But what can you do if you are injured or sustained property damage in an accident caused by a police car?
Who Pays Expenses in These Situations?
In the aftermath of an accident involving a law enforcement vehicle, the process will likely look fairly similar to how most vehicle accidents proceed forward. First, the law enforcement officer involved will not be the one handling the claim or scene investigation. Usually, a law enforcement official from a separate agency comes to process the scene and the police report.
As with any other type of vehicle accident, you will have to report this incident to your insurance carrier as quickly as possible. If it is determined that the police officer caused the collision, then the insurance carrier for the police agency or municipality will typically be responsible for paying compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, and other damages. However, if the agency’s insurance carrier fails to provide adequate compensation or if they deny the claim altogether, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the department.
Can You File a Lawsuit to Recover Compensation?
Filing a lawsuit against a government agency in North Carolina is challenging. Under the North Carolina Tort Claims Act (NCTCA), the state government waives immunity in many of these situations and allows itself to be sued if a state employee negligently causes harm to another individual while they are acting within the scope of their duties.
Claims against local government entities in North Carolina are also governed by the NCTCA. For example, this law would allow individuals to file a lawsuit against the state highway patrol as well as a local town’s police department.
However, when filing against a state or local government, it is important to understand that the process is different than a traditional personal injury lawsuit. All NCTCA claims must be filed with the state Industrial Commission. Individuals must file their claim against a state, local, or municipal government within three years if it involves injuries or property damage. For any wrongful death claim revolving around a law enforcement vehicle accident, the claim must be filed within two years.
Work With an Attorney
Filing a vehicle accident claim or lawsuit against a law enforcement agency is challenging. We strongly encourage crash victims to work with a skilled Raleigh car accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can examine the facts of the case, gather evidence, and handle all communication with insurance carriers. If necessary, an attorney will pursue a lawsuit against the other party to ensure that their client is treated fairly throughout the entire process. Government entities and their insurance carriers have deep pockets, and it is important to have an advocate by your side who can use their resources to help you every step of the way.